The following questions were created for workshops exploring sexuality, power and consent, sensuality and desire. Implicit in this exploration is the interrogation of the role that gender as a societal construct plays in the intimate realms of our minds, bodies and bedrooms, and how our desire has been given consent or silenced through external pressure, internalised shame or even violence.
Patriarchy not only inhibits equal pay, it also inhibits desire.
The high levels of trauma that gender-based violence has enacted upon our bodies has meant that many of us do not live in our own skins but outside of ourselves. In any instance when our power — to say what does or doesn’t happen to our bodies —
is taken away from us, a sense of numbness and disassociation from the body can result, and we may live for years at the edges of our own existence.
It becomes a political act not only to protest against gender-based violence but also to find our selves/souls in our own bodies again. This takes us beyond the binary of gender, and gendered sexuality, into the terrain of nonbinary, fluid, sensual and embodied sexual expression.
The apartheid between men and women stems from an insidious internalised oppression. The macho main man role is so narrow, it numbs the spectrum of the masculine experience to a single loud voice: “boys don’t cry”, “don’t be a sissy”, “win at all costs”, “take control”. This voice manifests in, and cripples us all, whether we are the man wearing the mask of masculinity, or the woman who has cut herself off from her own shamed femininity.
Alongside the “no” to patriarchy, we need to say “yes” to the internal work of healing to live freely inside our own skins. It is up to each of us to take responsibility for how we judge, shame and project upon our lovers, friends, family and, most critically, ourselves.
When we come to realise our infallibility to be one thing, perhaps then we can begin to embrace our vulnerability — as we start to define ourselves outside of these projected roles and failings, and begin to see each other as equally human, and beyond that even as beings of infinite possibilities.
Sarah Ping Nie Jones aka Saigon Sam is a therapist and facilitator of group and individual process around gender, embodied sexuality, power/consent, sensuality and desire. [email protected]Cindy Poole is a designer of products, curated experiences and environments, who champions the creation of Empowered Feminine as well as Positive Masculine spaces for processing
and healing [email protected]